A Celebration of Arthurian Studies at Bangor University

An illustration by renowned early 20th century illustrator Arthur Rackham, An illustration by renowned early 20th century illustrator Arthur Rackham, Bangor University can now boast the largest collection of Arthurian books in Wales and the north of England, following an agreement with Flintshire County Council, who have donated a rare and valuable Arthurian Collection to the University’s Library and Archives.

The newly arrived collection is well suited to its new home. Bangor University has a 50 year history of significant contribution to the study of Arthurian literature. Dr Radulescu, who currently leads the Arthurian literature courses at Bangor University, is internationally renowned for her activity in shaping the field of Arthurian studies through her editorship of the Journal of the International Arthurian Society (JIAS) and the Annual Bibliography of the International Arthurian Society (BIAS); she contributes regularly to radio and TV programmes on medieval studies and the Arthurian legend and was recently interviewed on the Australian ABC national radio on this topic.

As well as providing a valuable resource to students studying the ever-popular Arthurian Literature undergraduate modules or the University’s MA degree in Arthurian Literature, the only one available anywhere on the globe, the collection will also interest anyone who wants to discover Arthurian studies more generally, for example those who want to discover how these tales have been re-used and re-told in different guises and formats over the centuries.

Dr Raluca Radulescu said:

“People have been fascinated with the Arthurian tradition down the centuries, whether for academic study or simple storytelling, and whether in book, film or comic form. We’re planning to use this donation as an impetus to start both new collaborations with partners locally and internationally and draw more academic interest in the study of Arthurian literature to Bangor. We are hoping to reach out to the local community as well by developing Arthurian-themed activities, such as story-telling events, and some school talks planned for June.”

The frontispiece of an edition of La Mort D’Arthur published in 1816. The frontispiece of an edition of La Mort D’Arthur published in 1816. Sue Hodges, Bangor University’s Director of Libraries and Archives commented:

“This is a fantastic collection which will support Arthurian Studies research, teaching and learning within Bangor University and internationally and it augments and enhances our existing collection. We are very grateful to Flintshire County Libraries for this acquisition. Working closely with Dr Radulescu, we will manage, conserve, promote and digitise some of the collection so that it can be opened up further for the public and communities within Wales.  Members of the public can arrange to come in and consult the collection and we will hold a series of events which will promote the collection.”

Cllr Chris Bithell, Flintshire Library Service, said: 'We are very pleased that this unique collection of Arthurian Literature has been relocated to Bangor University Library. The collection can now be expertly managed and preserved by the University Library and Archive Service, who have existing links with Arthurian scholars and who plan to widely promote the collection. The collection will be accessible to anyone who wishes to read about or study the subject. Details of how to arrange a visit to use the collection will be available on the Flintshire Libraries website after 16th April.”

The collection was originally donated to Flintshire County Libraries in 1952 by E. R. Harries, a former librarian of the county. Flintshire and Clwyd library services then added further stock and the collection now consists in over 2,000 items, representing a significant addition to Bangor’s collection, which is already of major interest to scholars and general readers alike. The Flintshire Harries Arthurian collection also contains some rare early printed books and deluxe editions of the nineteenth-century Arthurian revival. It now enhances Bangor University’s existing collection, and will be curated, preserved and managed by the University’s Library and Archives Service.

To celebrate the arrival of the Collection, the University is hosting a public lecture and exhibition. The public lecture 'Arthur: the King that Never Left Us', is to be delivered by Dr Roger Simpson and will take place in Lecture Room 2 in the Main University Building, Bangor University, at 5.00pm on Thursday  16 April. The Exhibition will be on display in the  Council Chamber corridor in the University’s Main Building between 13-27 April. These areas are open to the public.

Publication date: 10 April 2015